Dodgers shut out D-Backs to maintain wild-card lead

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Derek Lowe seemed to be the only one who
didn't think he pitched well.

"It was beyond a struggle, a game that I had to try to figure
out how to get through it," Lowe said Friday night after throwing
seven effective innings for Los Angeles in a 2-0 win over Arizona
that kept the Dodgers a half-game behind NL West leader San Diego.

Los Angeles catcher Russell Martin thought Lowe, who scattered
five hits, walked three and struck out three, pitched great.

"He was a little fatigued, I think. But sometimes he's maybe a
little too active out there, so maybe it kept him calm," Martin
said, smiling.

Dodgers manager Grady Little appreciated Lowe's performance,
whether it was a struggle or not.

"It certainly came at a great time for us as a ballclub, and
for Derek. As little as he likes to let on, he's an outstanding
athlete and has got ice water in his veins," Little said.

Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin certainly didn't notice if Lowe
was having an off night.

"He kept us off-balance enough with his breaking ball and a
couple of changeups, but he's got a sinker going that starts out at
the knees and goes to the bottom of the knee and below," Melvin

J.D. Drew broke a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the
seventh. Russell and Marlon Anderson hit consecutive doubles two
outs later to make it 2-0.

The victory kept the Dodgers a half-game in front of
Philadelphia for the wild card. The Padres defeated Pittsburgh 6-2,
and Philadelphia beat Florida 5-2.

Drew led off the seventh with his 19th homer, driving Claudio
Vargas' 0-1 pitch into the pavilion seats in right-center. That
made him 8-for-23 lifetime against the right-hander with five
homers and 10 RBI.

Two outs later, Martin doubled and Anderson doubled him home
while pinch-hitting for Lowe (15-8), chasing Vargas after 105

"I felt good out there and used all my pitches. I just missed
on one pitch up and over the middle of the plate and it was a home
run," Vargas said. "Drew's hit me good in my career, but he's a
good hitter anyway."

Vargas (11-10) allowed two runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings.
He walked one and struck out two.

Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito replaced Joe Beimel with two outs
and runners on second and third in the eighth and caught Eric
Byrnes looking at a fastball on the outside corner for a called
third strike. Saito also pitched the ninth to record his 21st save
in 23 chances, tying Yhency Brazoban's club rookie record for

Lowe and Vargas kept the opposing offenses quiet through the
first six innings.

The Diamondbacks put together a mild threat in the first when
Craig Counsell drew a leadoff walk and Orlando Hudson followed with
an infield single. But Lowe got Luis Gonzalez to ground into a
force play at second, then Byrnes grounded into a double play.

Arizona also had two on in the fifth, but Counsell grounded to
first for the third out.

Game notes
Despite being out of the NL West race, the Diamondbacks can
affect the outcome. Besides their three-game series in Los Angeles,
they have four games remaining with San Diego and three against San
Francisco. ... Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, a
special adviser with the club, turned 79 on Friday. Bobby
Valentine, who played under Lasorda, had 79 fruit baskets delivered
to Lasorda's home, with personal messages on each from his former
players. Lasorda is donating the baskets to a children's hospital.